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FOUR DOWNS: Sewell solid in debut at left tackle


In the mind of Detroit Lions rookie tackle Penei Sewell, nothing but perfection is acceptable when evaluating his own game.

Obviously, that's not a reality in the NFL, especially when talented 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa is lined up across the line of scrimmage. But Sewell certainly has the right attitude after an NFL debut that was pretty impressive by all accounts.

Sure, Bosa got the better of Sewell once or twice, but Sewell was pretty solid most of the afternoon against a really good front.

Sewell made the start at left tackle for the injured Taylor Decker. He had only two days of practice at left tackle after lining up at right tackle since the day the Lions drafted him with the No. 7 overall pick back in April.

"It was probably towards the end of the second quarter and we'd gone into this game plan wanting to take care of our tackles, even when Decker was playing, we wanted to take care of both of them ... it was late in the second and I remember I was going to say something in the head set like, 'This kid is playing pretty good, like I feel like he's holding his own,' but I didn't want to do it because I didn't want to jinx him," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said of Sewell's performance after Detroit's 41-33 loss to the 49ers Sunday.

Campbell said he didn't really think twice about Sewell throughout the course of the game, which is a good thing in his book.

The Lions shifted Sewell over to left tackle because they thought he was a better matchup athletically on Bosa. Matt Nelson started at right tackle.

"To me, I have to win every rep," Sewell said after the game. "I have to get better on a couple things. My hands were out of whack. Pad level came too high on a couple."

Sunday's performance should be a confidence boost for Sewell. Bosa certainly left impressed by Detroit's rookie tackle.

"He's going to be good," Bosa said of Sewell after the game. "He's more comfortable on the left, and I could tell from the tape I saw of him on the right. I told him after the game he's better on the left."


The Lions gave themselves a chance to win the game Sunday at the end after falling behind by as many as 28 points, which showed some grit and determination, but the Lions don't have the kind of roster that can make some of the mistakes they did early in the game and still have an opportunity to win.

As Campbell said after the game, they know their margin for error is small.

"We have to eliminate all the little stuff," Campbell said. "There is so much stuff to clean up on that tape."

Quarterback Jared Goff can't throw a pick-six in a two-minute drill before the half. Detroit's special teams can't miss on opportunities to score. The Lions' defense can't go two and a half quarters before making the opposing offense punt. The defense also can't give up big plays.

"Man, our margin for error is so small," Campbell said. "We have to play the game a certain way. It's just the way we are and the way we're built. We don't have the luxury of making some of the mistakes we made and being able to win."

Campbell said they need to clean up some stuff, and they will clean it up.


As the Lions were mounting their fourth-quarter comeback, there was a moment where second-year running back D’Andre Swift looked at Goff and felt his confidence.

"Natural born leader," Swift said of Goff after the game. "Type of guy you love playing next to. In times like that I like to look in guys' eyes and see who I'm standing next to and going to war with. No fear in anyone's eyes on that field, so I'll go to war with anybody on (this) team."

After the game Goff lamented the late second-quarter pick-six he threw, and admitted it was a play he can't make, but Goff was also a big reason why the Lions got back into the contest. He completed passes to nine different pass catchers and was 38-of-57 passing for 338 yards with three touchdowns, one interception and a 92.6 passer rating. Goff missed some throws, but he made plenty as well.

"All the way to the end, he gave us a chance," Campbell said of Goff.


It took just one possession of football for Campbell to make his first big decision as head coach.

Detroit faced a 4th and 2 at the San Francisco 35-yard line, and Campbell had no hesitation to go for it.

It didn't work out in his favor, as running back Jamaal Williams stumbled after receiving the handoff and never got back to the line of scrimmage, but Campbell didn't regret the call after the game.

"I felt like we needed to do that this game," he said of his fourth-down aggressiveness, which totaled five opportunities in the game, converting on two. "I think each game has its own challenges and unique floor plan, if you will. I just felt it was important to try and create some momentum.

"I knew that three (points) wasn't going to be good enough to beat this team, so how do you get seven? The best way is to give some more downs to your offense and go for it on fourth down."

The second fourth-down attempt came late in the first quarter on a 4th and 1 at the 49ers' 17-yard line that Goff converted to wide receiver Tyrell Williams for a 7-yard gain. That set up Detroit's first touchdown.

The third attempt came in the third quarter on a 4th and 1 at Detroit's 34-yard line with the Lions trailing 38-10. Jamaal Williams gained seven yards and a first down, and Detroit scored their second touchdown on a Swift 43-yard catch three plays later. The two other misses on 4th down came late in the game, the last ending the contest.

Campbell had a plan, and he wasn't afraid to be aggressive to execute that plan.

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